Speaking Engagements & Private Workshops - Get Dean Bubley to present or chair your event

Need an experienced, provocative & influential telecoms keynote speaker, moderator/chair or workshop facilitator?
To discuss Dean Bubley's appearance at a specific event, contact information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Quick anecdotes on mobile broadband

A couple of quick comments, based on recent discussions:

1) Some people in the US are using the term "aircard" (Sierra Wireless' brand) as a generic term for 3G/WiMAX modem, rather than "dongle"

2) Some people (also mostly from the US or Canada) are still under the impression that most mobile broadband users are corporate "road warriors", and have very limited awareness of the huge massmarket of consumer dongle buyers around the world.

3) The phenomenon of prepaid mobile broadband remains quite low in awareness among people "in the industry"

4) I heard of a European operator subsidising *unlocked* embedded-3G modules in notebooks sold through *retail* channels. In other words, you open the box, get a note saying something like "Congratulations! Your laptop has 3G! We're giving you a SIM and a month's access for free...." but you can still subsequently swap it and use a competitor's SIM if you decide to, after the trial. (This is unconfirmed - but it sounds to me like an extremely expensive version of AOL's old CD-in-the-PC-box promotion technique from the 1990s)


Anonymous said...

As with the road warrior comment, the rest of the world's statistics can't be trusted --- as illustrated from your previous blog entry. Counting simcards or counting how many dongles or how many 3G integrated laptops --- are the same as real people using actual wireless broadband services.

In the end, there is no proof that there is an actual mass market for wireless broadband services outside the US.

What do we know about the North America datacard market --- they are 99.9% on contract, they are mostly from business users and they are statistics that you can rely on.

Anonymous said...

--- edit:

AREN'T the same as real people using actual wireless broadband services.

Dean Bubley said...

Er, what?

"In the end, there is no proof that there is an actual mass market for wireless broadband services outside the US."

What a bizarre statement. How do you figure that one out? What more proof do you need?

Audited statements from operators and retailers citing millions of customers, reports by industry regulators and so forth?

Cities, trains, airports full of people with USB modem sticks hanging from their laptops? Adverts saturating the press, huge amounts of retail floorspace dedicated to mobile broadband? Grandmothers saying "oh, that's one of those dongles, isn't it?"....

Sure, North America doesn't have much of a consumer market for this, because the prices are so high. But my whole point was that this means that Americans (and Canadians? not sure..) can be blind to how different the rest of the world is.


Anonymous said...

How do you know that those people in train stations and airports aren't road warriors?

If Europe doesn't have much corporate wireless broadband customers (as compared to the US) --- it merely means that the service is not good enough for corporate usage. General consumers have lower standards than corporate users --- therefore prices are lower in Europe.

Furthermore, service prices for wireless broadband dongles have to take into account with wireless phone data plans and wireless phone data speed/data allowance.

Look at the 3G iphone plans in Europe --- some have limited to 384 kbps speed, some have 250 MB data allowance... That's screwing the 100 million people with a 3G phone to benefit the 5 million people with dongles.

I rather have 100 million people with affordable mobile broadband data on their mobile phones and leave the datacards to the premium paying corporate users. Where else can you get a 5 GB iphone data allowance? AT&T (and Canada's Rogers with a time limited special pricing 6 GB iphone data plan).

Dean Bubley said...

Sure there are business users as well - and proportionately more in airports. I'm not saying there are *no* business users - up until 2007, most customers *were* road warriors.

However since the introduction of cheap USB modems (especially the original Huawei E220) and flatrate and prepay data plans, by consumer-oriented operators like 3, the picture has changed.

You have cause & effect the wrong way round - it was new entrants providing consumer-priced services that catalysed the market, nothing to do with consumers having "lower standards", which is actually largely wrong.

Corporate users tend to need top-grade customer service & security. Consumers have higher requirements for speed (because of video use etc) and coverage (because of use at home, in-building).

It's not that Europe is under-represented vs. the US in terms of business users - it's that it's over-represented in terms of consumers.

There is also no link between pricing of iPhone plans and dongle plans - dongles were being sold to consumers at these levels of price before the 3G iPhone hit the market.

In any case, 3G iPhones are too expensive for many customers, especially if they are unsubsidised, as is the case in prepaid markets.

Paul said...

""... That's screwing the 100 million people with a 3G phone to benefit the 5 million people with dongles.""

Er, actually that's <<100million Phone users screwing up the networks for the >>5Million dongle/embedded users. iPhone is a hideous wireless device with poor radio and poor standards compliance; Blackberrys are mavericks that ignore the mobile networks signalling just to preserve battery life wasting resources that other users could use. At least a USB or embedded has only one job to do (connect a data session to the network) and focuses on doing it well.

In NA, handset data rules because it's profitable and the operators are scared of what might happen if a decent PC data-plan were <$60.

Note to Europeans, this is plus VAT, so for a 5GB 24 month package you're looking at 40 pounds per month, the same price you could probably get the same data for (and the laptop thrown in) in the UK.